NEWARK, Calif. (AP) — Steve Kerr believes the voices of America’s youth are finally being heard enough to create real change when it comes to gun violence.
Kerr told students at a Bay Area high school that safety in schools should be their “No. 1 issue,” urged them to vote and consider what they might be able to do to make gun safety and awareness a priority.
Kerr, the Golden State Warriors coach who has been outspoken on many social justice issues , drew a big crowd and a standing ovation before sharing how his life was affected by gun violence more than three decades ago when his father was shot dead in a terrorist attack.
“I’m not here because I’m the Warriors coach. Actually I am, because I wouldn’t have been invited. I’m here because I’m a citizen of this country and we’re a democracy and when people say stick to sports, stick to coaching, that means nothing,” Kerr said Monday at Newark Memorial High School. “I feel like it’s my responsibility to speak on something that’s very important to me.”
Kerr joined U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna, U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, and students from throughout the South Bay to discuss the issue. Also in attendance was Matt Deitsch, 20, whose younger brother and sister stayed locked in closets during last month’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
“I think he sees what so many of us see: There’s a moment in this country that can make a difference,” Khanna said.
Deitsch identified himself as the oldest member of the “Never Again” movement. He and others in his group plan to march in Washington, D.C., on March 24.
“It will change things because the youth is mobilizing at a rate that scares the status quo,” said Deitsch, who noted: “This is affecting all communities. It can happen anywhere.”
Kerr believes young people will help create change. “All I’ve really done is expressed my outrage and my concern,” he said.
Kerr said he’d like to do more, perhaps getting “my team involved.”
“I have been truly inspired by what I’m seeing lately from the kids at Douglas High School,” Kerr said. “I’m inspired by what’s happening. It feels real. For the first time, it feels like something’s happening.”
Kerr’s father, Malcolm, president of the American University of Beirut, was murdered in Beirut when Kerr was 18 and a freshman at the University of Arizona.
“I know how the Parkland families feel, or the Aurora families, or Sandy Hook,” Kerr said. “I know what it feels like. I met family members from Las Vegas. I know what that feels like. It’s awful. It’s devastating. It’s horrible.”